Some people will tell you that the only way to BBQ is to use charcoal. It is an American pastime, and one that is steeped in tradition. But, new gas grills are allowing people to brave the cold so that they can grill all year round. Here’s how to make your setup winter-proof.
Watch the Weather Report and Plan
Before you head outside to grill, check the weather report. There’s no need to grill at the absolute worst time of day or week. One way to have your grilled food, and winter too, is to choose a day of the week when it will be relatively calm. It’s rare for the weather to act up all day long, all week long. If you see a break in the snowing on Saturday or Sunday, that’s your chance. Get out there, shovel off some space, and fire up the grill.
Cook a week’s worth of food and you won’t have to get out there every day. Will your food go bad in a week? Not if you use wood chips to partially (or fully) smoke it. Some research suggests that a low flame, and controlled smoke, may produce potent antioxidants that actually help preserve and enhance meat. It makes sense. Before there were refrigerators, there were two ways to preserve meat: salting and smoking.
Use Wood Chips for That Charcoal Flavor
Wood chips and chunks are one of the best ways to flavor meats without changing the nutritive value of the food. These methods can also preserve meat in an uncomplicated manner. But, smoking is usually done with charcoal.
BBQ gas grills, however, sometimes accommodate smoking chips in a separate box. These little compartments add the same type of flavor that you get from traditional charcoal grilling, and the cleanup is a lot easier.
When adding chips or chunks, it’s important to follow a few basic rules. First of all, avoid the temptation to use straight up mesquite wood. It seems like a good idea, and it’s definitely “traditional,” but it also easily imparts a bitter smoky flavor to meats. It also introduces a lot of carcinogenic compounds into your food. Other meats, like birch, and some hard woods, are better for smoking. If you’re smoking meats, most of them benefit from a ratio of 80 percent maple or hickory and 20 percent of sweet woods, like apple.
Some BBQ specialists swear by a mix of 40 percent oak, 40 percent hickory, and 20 percent apple. It’s important to mix sweeter woods into the smoking mix, but only incidentally.
Add More Fuel to The Fire
When it’s cold outside, you’ll probably need more fuel than usual. Wind, snow, and ice can all cool off a grill, and unless it’s insulated, it’s going to alter the temps inside the grill dramatically. Keep that in mind. Also, the thermometer that came with your grill is of a coil type, and is almost completely useless. Get yourself a digital thermometer with duel prongs or clips – one for the grill grates and one for the meat.
Warm Food Before Grilling
This is a general rule for all grilling, but it especially applies to cold weather grilling. Get meat up to room temperature, or close to it, before grilling. Don’t worry about bacteria. They’ll be killed off in the grilling process.
Robert Briley is a self-proclaimed entertaining guru. When he isn’t hosting the latest dinner party, he’s writing about it on the web. You can find his interesting articles on a variety of websites and blogs.